9 Things You Shouldn’t Say to a New Mom at the Grocery Store
Because apparently, these need to be spelled out.
You know what’s hard? Getting out with a newborn. You know what’s harder? Dealing with your shenanigans, Brenda.
I thought that once I’d had my baby, returning to the real world would be a breeze. No one would touch my stomach. I wouldn’t have to listen to anyone’s birth story. My body would cease to be a topic of discussion. I was actually excited to go back into the grocery store again, this time with a sweet newborn strapped to my chest.
But, to paraphrase a line from The Grinch...
She HADN'T stopped the comments from coming! THEY CAME!
Somehow or other, they came just the same!
I can’t believe I actually have to spell this out, but there are some things that shouldn’t be said to a new mom at a grocery store (or the DMV, or the post office, or the… you get the picture). In order of most offensive.
"You Know Babies Die in Those, Right?"
I was browsing canned veggies looking for the right chili beans when a lady paused and cooed in my general direction—which is how best to approach new moms, apparently, as everyone coos at me now. “He looks so sweet and happy!” she said, trying to figure out how to touch him while he was nestled directly in and on my chest (Pro Tip: You can’t. That’s why I have him in there and not a stroller.) And then she paused and looked up at me. “I’m sure you’re careful,” she said, “but you know babies die in those things all the time.” Then she left.
I’m a third-time mom. This nonsense is par for my oversharing course. Had someone said this to me as a first-time mom, I might’ve ditched my cart and headed to the car to start CPR.
"When Are You Due?"
Number one on my list of “Just Why?” questions is the one that implies I’m still pregnant while I have an infant with me. Just yesterday a woman complimented my “cute baby bump” and asked when I was due. For whatever reason, I didn’t bean her with a pork loin and instead tried to help her out of the hole she’d dug. “Oh, I’m not pregnant,” I said. “I just had a baby, this baby actually, three months ago.” And instead of, I don’t know, apologizing or buying my groceries, she replied, “Oh! I was wondering how you got pregnant again so quickly.” Then, instead of acknowledging that she’d just asked more about my reproductive experience than I’ve shared with anyone ever, we stood there while I learned that she’s a mom of three, because clearly the exchange hadn’t gone on long enough.
"If You Want Her Hair to Grow, You Should Shave Her Head"
At check out, we had a little gender confusion going on with the cashier who called my sweet boy a “she.” But you know the one thing that doesn’t bother me? Calling the baby by the wrong sex. I know some people have babies blessed with flowing locks, but mine have all been bald and, since I’m not willing to shave their heads, they all look the exact same, like a tiny old man who missed his afternoon snack. I’m great with this, by the way, because it means when they start eating real food and rub it all over their face and head, my kiddo can be cleaned with a quick swipe of a washcloth and not a full shampoo-and-soak tub bath. So go ahead, pick your pronoun. I’ll never correct you, because I’m in the grocery store, you’re a stranger, and I’ll never see you again. But maybe keep your advice in check, too, especially if it involves a straight razor and my child’s head.
"His Hands Are So Soft!"
Before I started baby wearing every time I went out, I would keep my infant in his carseat nestled in the shopping cart, even if that meant dragging another cart behind me. The number of times people would lean into the shopping cart and touch my child before I could get there to swat their hands away was astounding. And these aren’t clueless teenagers; these are other parents and grandparents, mostly female. If “are you pregnant” is the one phrase I’m banning from the English language, touching babies’ hands is the one action that I’m axing. Because, you know what babies do? They chew on their hands. And you know where your hands have been? The grocery store. My kids and I don’t touch my newborn’s hands without washing ours, even at home. It’s just not worth exposing him to the germs. Before you ask why I didn’t put those mitts on him before hitting the meat section, let me assure you—I did. And one woman pulled them off.
"Did Your Milk Come in OK?"
Can we all agree not to talk about my body? Can we just not? I’m lucky enough to be able to breastfeed my kiddo, and it’s going ok for us, but some moms can’t and it’s more than just a tender topic. So can we just not? Would you ask a man how things are working with his prostrate? Then why is it ok that we’re talking about the functionality of my breasts in the dairy section? The only breasts up for discussion in the grocery store are those that need a quick marinade and about fifteen minutes on the grill.
"Oh, Mommy! Those Are Going to Give Me Gas!"
First, did you just call me mommy? Have we met? Second, you’re assuming I’m going to eat pretty much all of these Brussels sprouts by myself and that my baby is particularly sensitive to them. Third, the level of oversharing going on here is more than I exchange with my husband on a daily basis. Fourth, do you really need a fourth?
"I Hope Those Are Organic/Natural/Non-GMO"
We’ve all met Hovering Helen, who lingers by us in any given department to offer commentary on our selections as if she was responsible for the color portion of my shopping trip’s broadcast. She has the sweetest smile and mostly good intentions but horrible relationship awareness. If you’re concerned about the fresh tomatoes I’m buying to eat, for myself, that will make their way into the milk I may or may not be feeding my baby, then I have a whole big board of world issues for you to spend your time on, starting with global hunger and food deserts, not my grocery cart.
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"Are You a New Mom?"
This one is tricky, because it sounds like an innocent question, but actually, it’s a trap. You know I’m a new mom; there’s a baby attached to me. If you start talking to me about your MLM, ask me to join your team, tell me what a wrap will do for my baby weight, or offer me a makeover, then I will wait until you turn around and then inflict the ultimate grocery store justice: ramming your heel with my shopping cart.
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"Aw, He’s Hungry! You Should Pick Him Up."
This is not my first rodeo. I pick my shopping time based on my kid’s mood. We go after a nap when he’s just eaten and is at peak happiness. Instead of trying to assign blame, which you are, because clearly I’m both failing to feed my child and, if he’s in his stroller, failing to touch him after touching #allthethings in the grocery store, why don’t you, I don’t know, let me go in front of you in the checkout line. Sound entitled? Fine, but don’t start conversations with new moms with fussy babies in the checkout line! If you must move beyond a sympathetic smile, offer an encouraging word. “You’re doing great, mom,” is a great one. “Your groceries are on me; and here, have my bottle of wine,” is even better.